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Winter Wonderland: 10 Indoor & Outdoor Things To Do With Your Dog This Winter
The time for warm blankets, puppy cuddles, and playing in the snow is finally upon us! But with the Northeast Ohio snow also comes the concern of playing outside with your dog in winter. Often times we become fearful that going outside will harm their paws so we stay indoors. So, what do you do when there is snow outside and your dog needs exercise? There are lots of fun things you can do with your dog in the snow (especially in the frigid temperatures of Ohio) that will tire them out without turning them into pupcicles! Here are some fun things to do with your dog in winter both outside and inside.
Outdoor Winter Fun
Hide and Seek with a Toy
With snow also comes great hiding spots – play hide and go seek with your dog in winter! It is fun to hide the ball, rope, or chew toy in the snow and then send him out to go find it. By hiding the toy under the snow, it will stimulate your dog’s mind through his olfactory senses (smelling). After doing this a few times, your dog will be ready to head indoors for some cuddling by the fireplace!
Most of the time your dog just wants to spend time with you. Let him participate in your own winter activities and bring him along when you go to the sledding hill! If you trust your dog to be off-leash, let him chase you down the hill, or carry him along for the ride! This can be a lot of fun for the whole family and is the perfect way to get outdoors and burn some energy! Northeast Ohio has plenty of locations that offer sledding opportunities!
There is nothing wrong with going to your local dog park or playing fetch in the backyard. Playing fetch is a great way to burn some energy and bond with your dog. Select a toy that will be easily located amongst the snow (bright colours or large enough). Keep your ball playing sessions shorter, as your dog will be working his muscles hard and they can become stiff from being in the cold too long. Bundle up, because there is nothing wrong with a good game of fetch!
Never heard of Skijoring? Well if you know what skiing is, and you have a dog, you are all set! Skijoring is when you attach yourself to your dog (who loves to run) and go cross-country skiing! This is especially fun for dogs who are strong (larger breeds) and are trained well enough to obey commands like stop and turn. It is crucial, however, that you have the correct harnesses for your dog, as you do not want to put pressure on to his back or joints. You also want to ensure that your dog is strong enough to pull you from a dead stop – you can assist them by moving yourself at the beginning until you get going fast enough. Purchase your dog a pair of boots (with traction, so they do not slip on the snow), so that your dog’s feet are protected when in contact with ice and snow.
Walking or Hiking/Snow-Shoeing
Are you the outdoorsy type who likes to trek to the mountains during the cold months? One fun thing you can do with your dog in the winter is bring him along! Your dog will love to run around smelling things and just being out of the house. As always, keep an eye on the temperature – if it is extremely cold and below freezing, it might be better to do some indoor activities. Otherwise, purchase boots for your dog and a sweater to keep him extra warm on your adventures.
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Indoor Winter Fun
Take Advantage of Good Grooming Time
Why not take advantage of the fact that your dog has to be inside by taking care of some grooming chores. Give them a bath, brush their coat, trim their nails, brush their teeth – something that should be done once a week. Do all the things that you normally put off when they are outside having fun. This is a great time to work on teaching your dog to be comfortable with grooming. Give out plenty of treats and praise during this session, and take it slow. You’ve got all day inside, after all.
Change Out the Toys in the Toy Bin
This takes a little bit of planning before the winter day, but if you can get a spare toy bin set up in advance, it will save you many headaches. The idea is that your dog gets used to their regular toys, and when a bad-weather day comes around, they won’t be interested in those toys for very long. So that’s when you go into the spare toy bin and swap out some of their usual toys for a few new ones that you’ve set aside for rainy days. The key is to be sure that you only let them have the new ones on days when you are stuck inside, unless you intend to buy new ones to refill the spare toy stash. This will get your dog interested and excited in a new toy, and hopefully keep their mind off mischief.
Work On Their Obedience Training
Have you been slacking on the clicker training, or have you been wanting to teach your dog some better manners? Now is a great time. They’re bored, you aren’t going anywhere, and there’s no chance of distraction thanks to the weather. So grab your treats, your clicker, and your patience, and work on some commands. The attention from you will keep your dog occupied, and by the end of the day, you may have a much better behaved dog.
Teach Your Dog Hide and Seek
Dogs love a challenge, and they also love to be with you, their owner and best friend. So hide and seek is a great way to combine both of those instincts. The only thing your dog really needs to know how to do is to “stay” while you hide, and then to come look for you when you call their name. This game is a great way to work on the stay command if your dog doesn’t have that down yet.
Play Interactive Games Together
Dogs love figuring out puzzles, and they love attention from you. So interactive games where you try to stump them are bound to be big hits. Try a “guess which hand” game, hide treats around the house, or even play the shell game by hiding a treat under a shell or a cup and moving it around with empty cups. Then have your dog guess which cup has the treat. It won’t take long for your dog to figure out the nature of the game, and in the meantime, you’ll get a laugh out of their antics as they try to get the treat.